Skip to content

History of Black August Concept

November 11, 2005


The month of August gained special significance and importance in the Black Liberation Movement beginning with a courageous attempt by Jonathan Jackson to demand the freedom of political prisoners/prisoners of war which the Soledad Brothers’ case were the center of attention.

On August 7, 1970 Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, James McClain, and Ruchell Magee were gunned down at the Marin County Courthouse in that attempt for freedom. Ruchell Cinque Magee remains the sole survivor of that bid for liberation, he also remains a POW at Folsom prison doing life. Though this rebellion was put down by gory pigs and their agents it was internalized within the hearts and minds of the people on the outside in the larger prison as well as those in the concentration camps (prison), internalized in the same fashion as we honor other heroic African Freedom Fighters, who sacrificed their lives for the people and the liberation.

On August 21, 1971, almost exactly a year following the slave rebellion at Marin County Courthouse, George L. Jackson (older brother of Jonathan Jackson as well as one of the Soledad Brothers) whose freedom was the primary demand of the Marin rebellion, was assassinated at San Quentin prison in an alleged escape put forth by prison administration and the state to cover its conspiracy. Comrade George Jackson was a highly respected and purposely influential leader in the Revolutionary Prison Movement. Jackson was also very popular beyond prison, not only because he was a Soledad Brother, but also because of the book he authored appropriately entitled “Soledad Brother.” This book not only revealed to the public the inhumane and degrading conditions in prison, he more importantly, correctly pointed to the real cause of those effects in prison as well as in society, a decadent Capitalist system that breeds off racism and oppression.

On August 1, 1978 brother Jeffery “Khatari” Gualden, a Black Freedom Fighter and Prisoner of War, captured within the walls of San Quentin was a victim of a blatant assassination by capitalist-corporate medical politics. Khatari was another popular and influential leader in the Revolutionary Prison Movement.

An important note must be added here and that is, the Black August Concept and Movement that it is part of and helping to build is not limited to our sisters and brothers that are currently captured in the various prison Kamps throughout California. Yet without a doubt it is inclusive of these sisters and brothers and moving toward a better understanding of the nature and relationship of prison to oppressed and colonized people.

So it should be clearly understood that Black August is a reflection and commemoration of history; of those heroic partisans and leaders that realistically made it possible for us to survive and advance to our present level of liberation struggle. People such as: Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Gabril Prosser, Frederick Douglas, W.E. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Paul Roberson, Rosa Parks, M.L. King, Malcolm X, and numerous others in our more contemporary period.

The development of Black August as a revolutionary concept reflects the historical legacy of New African resistance to colonial oppression. Moreover, Black August is a political statement that condemns the efforts of the black middle class to and other liberals who cynically and opportunistically distort the historical efforts of New Africans for nationhood into state sanctioned aims of civil rights. Black August contends that in order for our people to rescue their history and culture from the genocidal effects of colonial oppression, it is necessary that New Africans have a clear perspective of themselves and their history.

Most standard history books tend to either play down or ignore New African resistance as a factor in the destruction in the slave economy. On the other hand, when one understands New Africans are still an oppressed nation, the reason for such deception becomes clear. Black August contends that not only was such resistance a factor in the destruction of the slave economy, but New African resistance to slavery continues to inspire New African resistance to national oppression. Herbert Aptheker (the author of “American Negro Slave Revolts”) recounts the personal remark of one New African involved in the civil rights struggle:

“From personal experience I can testify that American Negro Slave Revolts made a tremendous impact on those of us in the civil rights and Black Liberation movement. It was the single most effective antidote to the poisonous ideals that blacks had not a history of struggle or that such struggle took the form of non-violent protest. Understanding people like Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, William Lloyd Garrison etc. provided us with that link to our past that few ever thought existed.”

Black August contends that from the very inception of slavery, New Africans huddled illegally to commemorate and draw strength from New African slaves who met their death resisting. Black August asserts that it is only natural for each generation of New Africans faced with the task to liberate the nation, to draw strength and encouragement from each generation of New African warriors that preceded them. It is from such a rich heritage of resistance that Black August developed, committed to continuing the legacy of resistance, vowing to respond to the destruction of colonial oppression with our George Jacksons, Malcolm X’s, and Fred Hamptons etc.

New African resistance moved decisively into the 1920s and 1930s. Evidence of this was movements like: The African Blood Brothers, The Share Croppers, The Black Bolsheviks, etc. Unduly there is an incorrect tendency to confine the discussion of African Nationalism to the well-known Garvey movement as the sole manifestation of national consciousness. The Garvey movement was the point of the emerging politics of New African resistance. In labor, national consciousness, (i.e. literature, jazz, art, etc..) in the struggle for the land, in all areas of politics, like a great explosion of previously pent-up National Consciousness took place among New Africans.

The sixties was a further example of New African resistance to national oppression. It should be emphasized here that that struggle of non-violence was at that time a strategy of illegality, of danger, of arousing New Africans to direct confrontation with the colonial oppressor. Whether it was a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter or bus station, the movement deliberately broke the colonial law.

Inevitably the anti-colonial struggle moved to a higher level, growing beyond the initial stage of non-violent civil rights protest. Non-violent civil rights strategy was tried and discarded by New Africans, who found that it was a failure, incapable of forcing an entrenched settler’s colonial regime to change.

Black August contends that it is important to briefly mention such events to counter the colonial propaganda that the riots of the 1960s was due to anger brought on by overcrowdedness and summer heat. Black August asserts that in order for New Africans to arise to the historical task of defending the Nation, it is imperative that New Africans have a historical perspective of themselves resisting colonial oppression.

Black August avers that at a time when the Black Nation is experiencing the destruction of its community through planned gentrification, at a time when the quality of New African life is being blunted through unemployment, prison, drugs, high infant mortality and poverty, the call of New African organization should be one of resistance.

It must be further clarified that when we speak of “Culture Development,” we are not advocating Cultural Nationalism and/or merely talking about adopting African names, jewelry, dashikis, etc. Our primary interest lies not only in where we came from, but the nature of “WHY” we were forcefully brought here, understanding the character of “CONTINUOUS” struggle with the recognition that it is a Protracted struggle and developing the necessary lifestyles to guarantee its success.

Black August is the antithesis to “celebration” and empty “homage.” Black August attempts to place struggle and sacrifice on center stage. In this respect, Black August summons all progressive people who identify with the legacy of resistance to colonial oppression by actively participating in Black August. Thus during the entire month of August in commemoration of those Africans who have made the supreme sacrifice for the cause of African Liberation and reflect upon the significance of those contributions as well as to draw closer to the continuing necessity for resistance, we embrace the following as tenets to b e practiced during Black August:

1. A fast which historically has been used as an expression of personal commitment and resistance. Hence, from the sunrise until evening meal we will abstain from eating, drinking, or smoking.

2. We abstain from consuming any type of intoxicants for the entire month of August. The necessity for this should be self-evident for all serious participants of Black August.

3. We limit our selection of television and radio to educational programs, i.e. news, documentaries and cultural programs, etc.

4. During Black August we emphasize political and cultural studies for individuals involved in Black August. Participants in Black August should pair off with someone else you know to study and share knowledge of African Affairs.

Black August is a revolutionary concept. Therefore, all revolutionaries, nationalists and others who are committed to ending oppression should actively participate in Black August. Such participation not only begins to build the bridges of international solidarity, but it is through such solidarity that we strengthen ourselves to struggle for victory.

James “Doc” Holiday # 86555-012
P.O. Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959 USA

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: